Last minute touchdown pass to Bryce Marquardt lifts Rebels in 28-27 win
The ball squirted loose, coming to rest just to the left of Champlin Park quarterback Trevor Garrison.
In that very instant, it appeared as if all that had gone wrong for the Rebels over what had the looks of a two-quarter collapse in their own homecoming game against rival Blaine would end much like the downfall began.
Leading 21-0 and receiving the ball at the start of the third quarter, Garrison lost control of the ball, fumbling it back to Blaine.
The Bengals, in dire need of some momentum, pounced on the ball, and then the rest of Champlin Park by seizing control with a 27-point outburst that ended on a 33-yard touchdown pass with 50 seconds left to play that gave Blaine a unthinkable 27-21 lead.
And now this, another ball that slipped from Garrison’s grasp.
Only this time, there would be no Blaine defender in sight to gobble up the loose ball. Rather, Garrison recovered, picked it up and looked down field before heaving a pass that most won’t soon forget at Champlin Park.
Garrison found Bryce Marquardt in the open, and that once fumbled ball landed safely in the senior’s hands for what turned out to be a 54-yard game-winning touchdown reception.
The victory, which seemed to be a cinch at the intermission only to look anything but that in the final minute, lifted Champlin Park to 4-2 on the year, and extended the Rebels winning streak to four-straight games.
“We’ll take the win,” said head coach Mike Korton afterwards. “You have to hand it to Trevor. He got dinged pretty good tonight, but he came back and made a play. He really gutted it out.”
Garrison and his teammates were forced to gut out one more Blaine possession before it was officially over, as the Bengals used 30 yards in penalties to help set up a game-winning field goal attempt as time expired.
But Zach Wright’s 44-yard try into a stiff wind fell a yard or so short, and the Rebels escaped in what was their second last minute victory in as many weeks.
“We had a couple of dumb plays that really cost us tonight, both offensive and defensively, but we found a way,” said Marquardt, who finished with three catches for 74 yards and that touchdown, which was his sixth of the year.
“It was homecoming, there was no way we could lose this game,” Marquardt continued. “We had to have it.”
It looked early that the Rebels would win it going away after a trio of touchdowns from Michael Sales staked Champlin Park to a 21-0 lead at the half.
Sales’ first score came just over two minutes in, as the Rebels turned a Blaine turnover into seven quick points. Champlin Park would force the Bengals into four first half turnovers, and three of those led directly to touchdowns from Sales.
But the Rebels immediately returned the favor at the start of the second half, which was the main topic of the team’s halftime conversation.
“We had just got done talking about it,” Korton said. “But we come out and turn it over, and that leads right to their first touchdown. You can’t do that. They are too good of a football team.”
Blaine proved that much after their first score, limiting Champlin Park to just a handful of first downs the rest of the way, and putting together three more scoring drives to take the lead late.
But in the end, it wouldn’t be late enough.
“We feel all we need is a chance with our offense,” said Garrison, who will lead the Rebels into Anoka this week for a 7 p.m. kick-off Friday, Oct. 12. “We got it there with 50 seconds left, and we had a play. Bryce got open, and I was able to find him. I knew he would catch it.”